Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Recent Books

Machines Like Me (May 2019)

By Ian McEwan

May 21, 2019

Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence.  In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding.

Machines Like Me takes place in an alternative 1980’s London.  Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret.  When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first synthetic humans and – with Miranda’s help – he designs Adam’s personality.  The near-perfect human that emerges is beautiful, strong and clever.  It isn’t long before a love triangle forms, and these three beings confront a profound moral dilemma.

In his subversive new novel, Ian McEwan asks whether a machine can understand the human heart – or whether we are the ones who lack understanding.

Necessary Secrets (May 2019)

By Greg McGee

May 21, 2019

A funny and dark examination of modern family life in New Zealand, Necessary Secrets both delights and shocks as it shows just how rocky life can be.

From Herne Bay to Golden Bay, the four members of the Sparks family each get their own season to love, hate, hurt, laugh and be afraid of the future.

What You Wish For (May 2019)

By Catherine Robertson

May 21, 2019

A funny and poignant Gabriel’s Bay story.

Dr Ashwin Ghadavi, the newly imported GP, is trying hard to fit into Gabriel’s Bay.  His challenges include the immoveable force of his office manager, Mac, the ambiguities of the Kiwi idiom, and his unrequited attraction to Mac’s daughter, Emma.

Having returned home, Emma is determined to help her old friend, Devon, whether he wants it or not.  She’s also on a mission to right eco wrongs, and her targets include local farmer Vic Halsworth, who’s already neck deep in the proverbial and, to make matters worse, seems to be having visions of moose.

Add in a former jailbird, a Norwegian recluse, and a woman struggling to foster a child, and you have the usual endearing and down-to-earth mix that can only occur in Gabriel’s Bay.

Before She Knew Him (May 2019)

By Peter Swanson

May 21, 2019

‘They had a secret, the two of them, and there was no better way to start a friendship than with a secret…’

When Hen and Lloyd move into their new house in West Dartford, Massachusetts, they’re relieved to meet, at their first block party, the only other seemingly childless couple in their neighbourhood, Matthew and Mira Dolamore.  Turns out they live in the house immediately next door.

When they’re invited over for dinner, however, things take a sinister turn when Hen thinks she sees something suspicious in Matthew’s study.  Could this charming, mild-mannered college professor really be the person Hen, who has been battling her own problems with depression and medication, thinks he is?  Even if she is right, who would believe her?  As Hen’s suspicions grow, she and Matthew are drawn closer together.  But who, if anyone, is really in danger?

From its deeply unsettling opening, Peter Swanson’s dark and twisting psychological thriller will keep you reading late into the night.

The Gulf Between (May 2019)

By Maxine Alterio

May 20, 2019

Under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, love, lies and disenchantment lead to a menacing showdown in this suspense – filled novel.

A foreigner is seriously injured not far from Julia’s safe Queenstown hideaway.

Why does he have her name in his wallet?

His unexpected arrival takes Julia back forty-five years to London, where as an impulsive young woman she first met Benito Moretti – a meeting that was to change her life, taking her to the glittering Gulf of Naples.  There Julia found herself pitted against her belligerent mother-in-law and Benito’s sinister brother in a lethal battle for her husband and children.

Julia remembered her father saying, We’re all as sick as our secrets.  Worlds that still haunt her.

Redemption (May 2019)

By David Baldacci

May 20, 2019

FBI consultant Amos Decker discovers that he may have made a fatal mistake when he was a rookie homicide detective.  Back in his hometown, he’s now compelled to discover the truth in the latest memory man thriller in David Baldacci’s international number one bestselling series.

Decker has returned to Burlington, Ohio, for a special reason.  It would have been his daughter Molly’s fourteenth birthday.  Molly was brutally murdered four years ago in their home, along with his beloved wife, Cassie, and his brother-in-law.

But then Decker is tracked down by a man he’ll never forget: Meryl Hawkins, his first homicide arrest more than twelve years ago.  Hawkins has been in prison serving a life sentence but was recently released due to a terminal illness.

Decker finds himself questioning what had seemed watertight evidence at the time – maybe he’d been a bit too keen to get that conviction?  Could Hawkins really be innocent as he’s always claimed?

If so, the killer is still out there – with a possible connection to a new crime.  As the body count rises, and Decker and his former partner, Mary Lancaster, dig deeper, it looks as though there’s a lot more to what they though was a closed case.

Troll Hunting (May 2019)

By Ginger Gorman

May 20, 2019

In 2013, journalist Ginger Gorman was trolled online.  She received scores of hateful tweets, including a death threat.  She was terrified, but once the attack subsided, she found herself curious.  Who were those trolls?  How and why did they coordinate such an attack?  And how does someone fight back?

Over the next five years, Gorman spoke to psychologists, trolling victims, law enforcement, academics and, most importantly, trolls themselves, enbedding herself into their online communities and their psyches in ways she had never anticipated.  She uncovered links between trolling, cyberhate and real-life crimes.  She mapped out a cohort of men – mostly angry, young and white – who rightly or wrongly feel marginalized and disenfranchised and use the internet to express this.  She encountered the frequently extreme personal costs endured by trolling targets, not to mention the very real financial and economic costs of cyberhate.

A gripping read, Troll Hunting is a window into not just the mindset of trolls, but also the profound changes in the way we live and work in a post-internet world.  Trolls didn’t appear from thin air – they are real people, and reflect a real aspect of our society.  This remarkable investigation will change the way you think about the internet, and what it means to be a human online.

when it all went to custard (May 2019)

By Danielle Hawkins

May 20, 2019

I wasn’t enjoying the afternoon of 23 February even before I learnt that my husband was having an affair…

The news of her husband’s infidelity comes as a nasty shock to Jenny Reynolds, part-time building control officer and full-time mother – even though, to her surprise and embarrassment, her first reaction is relief, not anguish.  What really hurts is her children’s unhappiness at the break-up, and the growing realization that, alone, she may lose the family farm.

This is the story of the year after Jenny’s old life falls apart; of family and farming, pet lambs and geriatric dogs, choko-bearing tenants and Springsteen-esque neighbours.  And of just perhaps a second chance at happiness.

The Flat Share (May 2019)

By Beth O'Leary

May 20, 2019

Tiffy and Leon share a flat.  Tiffy and Leon share a bed.  Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: night-worker Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want to feel at home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

The Tiger Catcher (May 2019)

By Paullina Simons

May 20, 2019

“All the colors of your world are about to disappear…”

Young and handsome, Julian lives a charmed life in Los Angeles.  His world is turned upside down by a love affair with Josephine, a mysterious young woman who takes him by storm.  But she is not what she seems, carrying secrets that tear them apart – perhaps forever.

So begins Julian and Josephine’s extraordinary adventure of love, loss, and the mystical forces that bind people together across time and space.  It is a journey that propels Julian toward either love fulfilled … or oblivion.

The Tiger Catcher takes readers from the dizzying heights of joy to the depth of despair and back again in an unforgettable new novel from a master storyteller.

  • The first novel in the End of Forever saga

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